One of the most important internet activists to date, Aaron Swartz strongly shaped and influenced the development of the Web in his short lifetime, envisioning and participating in essential and innovative net projects such as: drafting Creative Commons licensing models, defining RSS standards, or working on platforms such as Reddit or anonymous whistleblowing sites, amongst others. Curious about the world and mostly self-taught, he was passionate about libraries and a defender of open archives. Conscious about the immense benefits for the creative developments of arts, science, and society provided by open knowledge, F/LOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) movement, and net neutrality, he kept actively advocating for those causes.

In the same spirit, providing free public access to academic journals by releasing them from a paywall, Alexandra Elbakyan at just 23 years old developed the Sci-Hub platform in 2011: “The project is legal, while restricting access to information and knowledge is not. The current operation of the academic publishing industry is a massive violation of human rights”, she states. Accused of copyright violation or piracy, the web page has its access blocked by many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and is only accessible through Virtual Private Networks, TOR Browser, or mirror sites.

“But sharing isn’t immoral—it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy”, declares Swartz, in his Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto (2008). Whereas, Yuk Hui, in his Archivist Manifesto (2013) defends that regaining the knowledge and skills of organizing data and digital objects will liberate us from the position of “users”. “We are archivists since we have to be. We don't have a choice. This decision is already made, or determined by the contemporary technological condition“, he warns.

A decade after Aaron Swartz’s death, we want to revisit the technological developments and social implications that happened since then, where are we standing today, and see who is advocating for these and related issues today. The online exhibition Unarchive showcases the investigations of mur.at: creative residency programs, a radio program at Freies Radio Helsinki with interviews for the Netzrauschen podcast, and a local Worklab program held in Graz (Austria) in June 2023. The exhibition is paired with international artists' perspectives working with archives, collections, or works questioning the status quo of open knowledge through creative expression.

Featured artist include: Ricardo Ginès, Steffen Köhn, Nicole Kouts, Wouter Moraal, Martin Nadal, Miguel Rangil, Tabita Rezaire, Nestor Siré, Huda Takriti, Pim Zwier, and the Schuberttheater.

This program is part of the project series "aaron’s law" that includes various artistic-technical projects dedicated to him and developed in close cooperation with ACOnet/net:art coordination center.

The online exhibition is part of TheWrong new digital art biennale 2023.

About mur.at

Since 1999 mur.at runs an DIY and artistic datafarm in Graz (Austria), serving webhosting for the arts/culture sector and promoting media/net/digital art with yearly worklabs, residencies, publications and exhibitions. Mur.at strongly advocates Open Source Software and Hardware and the sharing of knowledge in workshops and skillsharing sessions with the mur.at-community.

Team 2023